I was speaking with our rookie teachers a week or so ago, and remembering some of my own frustrations during that first year of teaching, tried to console them a bit by telling them, “Trust me, even if the kids don’t let you know they’re listening, they are.” I went on to share that if you are lucky as a teacher, a couple of those students, as they get older, will get back in touch with you and tell you that your time and energy wasn’t for naught. Now, I don’t know if the rookie teachers were listening to me, but I trust they were. Maybe years from now they’ll tell me my experienced perspective was helpful during their early years, but I won’t count on it. In teaching, whether it is students or young teachers, expecting or hoping for a thank you is simply unrealistic. I learned years ago to appreciate the fact that some of my best teaching will go unrecognized, and that is OK.
My assumption is that my experience is similar to that of most teachers, especially those of us who teach at Hyde. So much of what we talk about with students, and experience and share with them, takes time to be fully appreciated and understood. I think sometimes only with added life experience- both successes and challenges, triumphs and disappointments- does their Hyde education really gain its full meaning, context, and utility. With alums rolling in for Homecoming Weekend as I sit here and write this, I will be listening intently to hear from them how their education has worked in the ensuing years since graduation. I trust that those rookie teachers will also listen intently and gain some comfort in knowing that 10 or 15 years down the road, that fidgety sophomore who was in their classes will be returning and saying how much they learned from them at 15.